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Please Have Several Seats: Black Music on the Grammys

Sunday’s Grammy telecast was a bad day for black music—that is, unless you include Justin Timberlake’s performance.

Sunday’s Grammy telecast was a bad day for black music—that is, unless you include Justin Timberlake’s performance.

Miguel wasn’t given enough time to let his new-classic, “Adorn,” breathe—not without Wiz Khalifa, dressed as Lakers’ super fan Jimmy Goldstein, interrupting for a pedestrian rap-interlude. And by “pedestrian,” I mean a limping, practically crippled pedestrian rap-interlude.

LL and Chuck D shut it down , but not without getting tele-sassed by rude ending-credits, and half of Staples Centers collectively and disrespectfully saying “later, geezers,” as they streamed out of the arena.

The Bob Marley tribute was extra corny, a 6,000-acre field of cornstalk.


And then there was Frank Ocean.


His was the best album of 2012. He was also the most compelling artist of 2012. I’ve seen Ocean live and neither his performance nor his singing is what you come for. Ocean makes what I like to call mood music. You appreciate his music for his lyrics and the production’s ambient sonic qualities. But, with all that said, on his night of coronation, the vocal performance he put on was horocious (horrific + atrocious).

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I felt embarrassed for Ocean and, most of all, for black music. Not that the Grammys will ever be a bastion for black art. (Note: Those squares didn’t even have a best rap album category until 1996. The first two rap artists they even acknowledged were Fresh Prince and Young MC.) But, you’d hope we’d show-n-prove when he hit the stage, the few times we do. Such was not the case, last night—especially not Frank, who sounded like he should have been singing into a webcam on his desktop in a dark dorm room.

The Grammys are a lost cause. But, come on! Do better, black music.